Panorama Ridge on Lomochrome Purple

Field Test Report

3 min read by
...Most of the shots didn’t look very good but the few that I liked, I liked a lot.

Location.

Panorama Ridge is a tough hike (30km round trip, 1520m/5000ft elevation) from the base of the Garibaldi Provincial Park. Every gram of gear mattered on this trip; nevertheless, I’ve decided to pack a telephoto lens and specialty film just to see what would happen.

Gear.

The camera of choice was my Olympus PEN FV 35mm half-frame SLR. The lens: 150mm 𝒇4 Olympus E-Zuiko Auto-T (210mm full-frame equiv.) This is probably the lightest setup possible for this kind of magnification: about 2.9° field of view. I was quite happy about it.

Lomochrome Purple wasn’t the only film I took with me to the mountains, but it occupied a very significant portion of the trip — approximately a quarter of all the shots. Giving such a role to a specialty film felt like taking a risk — I knew enough about it to understand that it will limit the colour palette and possibly yield many sub-par exposures. Looking back at my 75 frames, all of the above turned out to be true, plus more: the grain looked somewhat distracting when enlarged on my laptop, having been scanned on my PrimeFilm XAs.

I am showing you just the best few images from the roll here.

Results.

I’ve measured light for all of the shots using the Sunny 16 rule and experience-based guesses. My exposures certainly weren’t perfect, in part due to my loose interpretation of Lomography’s ISO 100-400 XR rating for standard C-41 development. When scanned, the film retained a fairly consistent amount of detail on both thin and dense negatives.

I’ve spent a bunch of time cleaning up scratches on my scans and fiddling with colour. This work felt very interpretative and laborious. As I’ve mentioned above, most of the shots didn’t look very good, but the few that I liked, I liked a lot.

The winning images looked dreamy yet close enough to reality that triggered fond memories of bliss and exhaustion near the peak of the hike.

What I’ve learned.

Though certainly not a rule, shallow depth of field and sweeping landscapes with clean lines are likely to create aesthetically pleasing images on Lomochrome Purple. Busy, high-contrast scenes did not look good in my tests, particularly on 35mm half-frames. My 35mm full-frames looked a little nicer, and I’d expect medium format to be even better at hiding this film’s rather distracting grain.

That said, the imperfections embedded in this emulsion are also its unique signature which can not be duplicated with digital photography.

If you are hoping to photograph something in a unique light, this film may be a good one to try.

By the way: If you’re planning to buy your Lomochrome Purple (or any other film), please consider getting it from Adorama using this link. Or if you’re thinking of getting your PEN FV (or any other film camera) from eBay — please use this. That way, this website may get a small percentage of that sale — at no extra charge for you — thanks!